An evangelical reader grieves for the church in the age of Trump

person-feeling-griefSeveral readers have messaged or e-mailed me concerning my recent post titled “When old friends disagree about politics.” Thanks again to Randy Blacketer for writing the post that prompted me to call attention to this topic. Several readers commented on the piece at my Facebook page, but none more forcefully than Troy Castle, Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of Vocal Studies at Milikin University. Troy gave me permission to republish the post below. I think he speaks for a lot of us.–JF

Thanks for sharing this post, John, and thanks for your own transparency. I honestly don’t know how Dr. Blacketer could add anything to his blogpost that would make it resonate with me any more than it already does. So many “amens” all the way through–every paragraph, every sentence.

I have long used the hashtag #since2016 to try to encapsulate the significance of Trump’s election for me. I already knew who he was, but on November 8, 2016 (and in the days leading up to it), I found out who *they* really are. As Russell Moore said, “It turns out the religious right is who the religious right always warned us about.”

1. “Stand for truth no matter what,” they told me. Unless of course it’s their error I’m standing against.

2. “The end never justifies the means,” they said. Until they demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that consequentialism is the most important principle of political involvement as far as they are concerned.

3. “Situation ethics are the antithesis of Christian ethics,” they said. Meanwhile, their about-face on the importance of personal morality in elected public officials couldn’t possibly be starker.

4. “Careful of the slippery slope, sin will take you farther than you ever thought you’d go,” they said as–in the span of seemingly hours–they went from “nose-holding” voters to worshiping the most blatantly and overtly corrupt, self-serving sociopath ever to occupy the public political space in my lifetime.

In short, calling it “disagreement about politics” doesn’t come close to adequately describing it. The people who were responsible for my formation (spiritual and otherwise)–family members, close friends, former pastors, teachers and mentors–showed me en masse who they really were. And, as Maya Angelou said–I believed them.

What has been seen cannot be unseen, and there are not adequate words to describe the grief, anger, and sense of loss I have when I realize those relationships will never be the same because I’m only doing what they taught me to do–when they apparently never really meant it to begin with. As Dr. Blacketer said, “It makes me wonder if we know the same God, or worship the same Christ, or read the same Bible. […]It is terribly discouraging for me as a Christian.”

I have met and corresponded with hundreds of people like Troy over the last four years. What are evangelical churches doing to minister to them? Do they even know they exist? Or are the leaders of evangelical churches–pastors, elders, and others–more concerned about pontificating in defense of Trump and spewing-forth Christian Right talking points. When was the last time the elder board or leadership team of a church sat down and talked at length about the Troy Castles in their congregations? –JF